Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Things That Make You Go, “Aaaaa!”

Here is my *abridged* To Do List for the rest of this week:

-translate “In Christ Alone” into French (so folks can follow along when I sing it for the evangelistic church Christmas program in a week-and-a-half)

-decide how much of the biblical Jonah narrative I’m going to read (with excellent pictures, for the above mentioned Christmas program)

-sweep and treat my room’s wooden floor

-buy Christmas gifts for The Fam and my French family

-buy Eva (a German language assistant) a birthday present

-go to Eva’s birthday parties (tonight and Saturday)

-tutor a 10-year-old girl in English for the first time

-prepare for my friend Mary Ann’s visit this weekend

-help Audrey with her math, English, and possibly physics homework (yes, in French)

-watch the second half of Gone With the Wind with Kerstin (another German assistant)

-prep. my medicine information for when I see the doctor on Friday (I need refills)

-prepare to be observed duirng one of my classes on Friday (well, the teacher's being observed, but during my teaching time. Hmm.)

-and of course, go see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ASAP (with Helen, an English assistant, and/or Mary Ann)

-…Oh yes, there’s more!

As you can see (I hope), these are all good stressors. I’m really happy with what fills my days these days (…these days…), though they’re often very full, causing a little bit of, “Aaaaa!”

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving on Wednesday

As promised, here are some photos of the meal (as documented by my host family).

À table!/Time for dinner!
Preparing the table

Please observe the different plates on the table. The larger white ones were brought out specifically for this occasion. They call them “American plates” because they’re so dang big. :o) (Really, it's just the cultural difference between having the whole meal at once and having courses.)

Oh, and the menu was as follows:
Main dish -- Ham Noodle Casserole
Side dishes -- Green Bean Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, and Dinner Rolls
Dessert -- Banana Bread
It wasn’t exactly what I’d initially envisioned (just try finding stuffing or canned pumpkin in France, or in Cavaillon at least!), but I was pleased with it in the end.

Serving the food:
Serving the food

"Eating American":
My host sisters

And just for fun, here’s one from when I made cookies last week. This first batch was a little burnt. I’m still perfecting the execution of this recipe in France.
Kate baking cookies

Anyway, the meal went well, even if it wasn’t a traditional Thanksgiving meal in most respects. However, it was great to get to celebrate it -- even if it was turkeyless, pieless, stuffingless, and on Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Yes, I know it’s Wednesday, but this is the only Thanksgiving I’m going to get here in France -- and it’s actually shaping up to be a pretty good one!

I’m going to make a Thanksgiving-esque meal for my host family for dinner tonight. (I couldn't do so tomorrow because I have to work all day!) I’ve made them cookies, but this is going to be a full-out meal. It’ll only somewhat resemble a normal Thanksgiving meal, but it should be good (I hope!). Actually, I think this is the first time I’ve been in charge of making a meal: menu, shopping, prep, and all. It’s fun, but ten times harder because, 1) everything’s in French (including measurements!), 2) I'm in a foreign kitchen, and 3) things are packaged in the French way -- if they even exist over here! (I’ve been obliged to change the menu a few times.)

And now for the super good news: I walked home from the store this morning in the falling snow! Or rather, in the littlest flurries you can possibly imagine. But I was giddy about it, anyway. People here have told me that it might snow every other year here -- might. So I was trying to prepare myself for no snow at all, and I was surprised to find that I disliked the prospect more than a little! Anyway, I got my fix on my faux holiday, which makes me very happy. PLUS they say that it might *actually* snow tomorrow or the next day. IhopeIhopeIhope!

Oh, and here’s a picture of the back yard today. There are tiny flakes coming down, but you can’t see them, of course. I just think it’s interesting because the grass is green (as it is all year round) and the bare mulberry tree has Christmas lights in it -- and you all get to see my back yard. :o)

the backyard

Happy Thanksgiving, you all… tomorrow. :o)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

And now, I choose to recite a list.

…Wisconsin, a book of matches, next week, a lot of money…

In somewhat of a bold move, I actually did recite a list to my students this week -- a long one -- and they even listened to it! I had decided that it would be good for them to choose an English/American name for class because that was always one of my favorite things to do in my French classes (and because they’d been asking me about names anyway). The other reason I did this was simply because I like names. You may have noticed the link on the right called “Baby Names”. This is not because I want a baby (one thing at a time!), but because I find trends in names fascinating.

Anyway, in case you’re interested, here’s the list I came up with, put on a handout, and distributed in my classes. I tried to choose typical American names with some new, popular ones, and some older standards -- but with the knowledge that these little French kids were apt to choose any name on there, and might choose Mildred if I included it. I also jazzed things up by putting in italics the top ten names given to babies (girls and boys, respectively) in 2004, according to the (government affiliated) Baby Names site.

And now, I choose to recite a list. :o)

Girls Names: Abigail/Abby - Alice - Allison - Alyssa - Amanda/Mandy - Amy - Ann/Anne - Anna - Ashley - Bethany - Brittany - Brooke - Carol - Carrie - Charlotte - Chelsea - Christina/Christy/Tina - Cindy - Danielle - Diane - Elizabeth/Liz/Beth/Betty… - Emily - Emma - Erin - Hailey/Haley - Hannah - Heather - Heidi - Isabella - Jamie - Janet/Jan - Jennifer/Jen/Jenny - Jessica/Jessie - Jillian/Jill - Jodi - Judith/Judy - Julia/Julie - Kaitlyn - Karen - Katherine/Katie/Kathy - Kayla - Kelsey - Kimberly/Kim - Kristin - Laura - Lauren - Linda - Lindsey - Lisa - Lydia - Madison - Maria - Mary - Megan - Melanie/Mel - Melissa - Michelle - Molly - Nancy - Natasha - Nicole/Nicky - Olivia - Patricia/Tricia - Rachel - Rebecca/Becca/Becky - Sally - Samantha/Sam - Sarah/Sara - Shannon - Stacy/Stacie - Stephanie/Steph - Susan - Tiffany - Tracy - Victoria/Vicky

Boys Names: Aaron - Alexander/Alex - Andrew/Andy/Drew - Anthony/Tony - Austin - Benjamin/Ben - Bradley/Brad - Brandon - Brian/Bryan - Bruce - Cameron/Cam - Charles/Charlie - Christopher/Chris - Corey - Daniel/Dan - David/Dave - Dean - Derek - Dylan - Eric - Ethan - Evan - Frank - Fred/Freddie - Gary - George - Gregory/Greg - Jackson/Jack - Jacob/Jake - James/Jamie - Jason - Jeffrey/Jeff - Jeremy - John - Jonathan/Jon - Joseph/Joe - Joshua/Josh - Justin - Keith - Kenneth/Ken - Kevin - Kyle - Lewis/Louis - Lucas/Luke - Mark - Matthew/Matt - Max - Michael/Mike - Nathan/Nate - Nicholas/Nick - Oliver - Owen - Patrick - Paul - Peter/Pete - Philip/Phil - Raymond/Ray - Richard/Rick - Robert/Rob/Bob/Bobby - Roger - Ronald/Ron - Ryan - Samuel/Sam - Scott - Sean/Shawn - Steven/Steve - Taylor - Tomas/Tom - Timothy/Tim - Toby/Tobey - Travis - Tyler - William/Will/Bill - Zachary/Zach

I already know that I omitted some important names (but you've gotta stop somewhere, right?), but I’d be interested in knowing where you all think I screwed up. As I said, I love names, so I hope you all aren’t bored to tears, because I’m sure not!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Teaching the Songs of My Childhood

As a musician, I have made it a priority to seek out songs that are good for teaching English to grade schoolers, not only because I like music, but because I know it to be an excellent teaching tool. From source to source there are a lot of repeats, as well as a few new ones to make continued searching worth my while.

One song that I was surprised to see pop up again and again was Ten Little Indians, I guess because it’s considered politically incorrect these days, but also just because I’d simply forgotten all about it. You remember how it goes,

One little, two little, three little Indians,
Four little, five little, six little Indians,
Seven little, eight little, nine little Indians,
Ten little Indian boys.

Anyway, I’ve used it two days in the classroom. The first day’s students have song sheets while the second day’s students have been copying the songs in their notebooks by hand as we get to them. The second day’s students were quick to bring an interesting grammatical point to my attention by saying, “Isn’t there supposed to be an ‘s’ on ‘Indian’ in the last line?” Good point! I went on and tell them how in English adjectives don’t agree with the subject, and that while “Indians” is the subject in every other line, “Boys” is the subject of the last line, which means that “Indian” does not have an “s”. What a handy song: numbers and grammar all in one!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Escargot Pizza!

That’s right! We had escargot pizza last night, as well as a pizza with potatoes, one with salmon, and another with some kind of fish purée. I took a picture of the leftovers (just salmon and potato):

French pizza

Did I try any of it? You betcha! I tried ALL of it… and I still feel fine. :o) This was my first taste of escargots, although my French family informs me that you lose most of the flavor that makes them what they are when you don’t eat them with their, um, oils, I think.

I actually like the potato pizza pretty well. (Potato, ham, and extra cheese. Yum!!)

[I finally got a photo copy of the escargot pizza we consumed.]

Friday, November 11, 2005

11/11, 11:11

At this point in time, while Veterans Day does make me more conscious of our nation's esteemed war veterans, it also makes me smile and think of good ol’ LHS and tape. Yes, as in Scotch tape. “Why?”, you may ask. Well, when I was at Lincoln High, I had a teacher who, in fun, made it a point to send a student to the same colleague's classroom every year on 11/11 at 11:11 (or maybe it was just 11:00) to ask to borrow his Scotch tape in honor of the Armistice -- and for a laugh. At the point when I was in his class, his colleague (who taught history, if memory serves) hadn’t yet noticed the pattern. :o) Anyway, I can’t pass through this day and not smile and think about Lincoln High -- and tape -- and wonder if the cycle isn’t continuing on…

(And yes, I did tweak the time of this post. I’m not quite that good.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Rioting, Fallen World We Live In

Just a word to let you all know that I’m well. I actually didn’t even know about the riots until fairly late in the game: a result of pairing my usual passivity about current events with language barriers (deteriorating though they may be).

A bit (a lot) closer to home was the murder that took place in my town just after I left on vacation the other week. A local drugstore owner was shot by someone he apparently denied free cigarettes. Words fail me. I guess it’s not like this kind of thing doesn’t happen back home, but I just expect it more from a town of 230,000 than one of 23,000. Anyway, I’m fine and all continues normally (enough) for me at the present.

Praise God for His marvelous plan of redemption! I’m so, so glad this isn’t all there is to life.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Worth the price of admission

Cooperating Teacher: You guessed correctly. This is the English assistant for this year. What country do you think she’s from?

Student1: England?

Student2: The United States.

Student3: America.

Student4: New York!

Student5: (retracts hand upon being called on, grins, hides face in hands)

Student6: Great Britain.

*fast-forward a week*

Lesson the First:

America = United States (U.S.) = United States of America (U.S.A.)

Very important, that.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

You Asked For It (well, Anne did -- several times)

I must ask you not to scream...

And I hope you’re not shocked.

I know this was kind of out of character for me,

Not to mention that I said I wouldn‘t do exactly this,

But it just sort of… happened.

I got the idea in my head

And there was no going back.

Anne already spilled the beans,

But I thought I’d string you along like this anyway.

Just bear in mind that I’m still getting used to it,

And that my ego’s not so fragile that it requires bolstering. :o)

The pix aren’t fantastic

Or even very good,

But I’m giving you what I have.

And with that I present some pictures of…

MY NEW HAIRDO (courtesy of a real-live French hairdresser):

across from the Rouen fun fair

a side shot: untamed hair a side shot: tamed hair

a side shot of my ponytail